I had the pleasure of spending some of last term at Warrawagine Cattle Station and Wallal Downs Station. My children loved their time with SOTA as brief as it was.
One of the things that really stood out to me is that people in the city have a different perspective of distance to ours in the country. A quick three hour drive in to Port Hedland to do your shopping and have a meeting with the School Principal is no big deal. In comparison, that is like me living in Margaret River and driving to Perth to meet with the School Principal. To many that is inconceivable but to the families at Warrawagine and Wallal it is just part of life.
SOTA students know their teachers and the towns they live in. They go to the same shops and community events. Their teachers share their love of the north and understand their lifestyle. The only difference compared to city students is the distance they travel. Their sense of belonging to a school community is the same as my children have in Margaret River.
Jack and Regina have a beautiful classroom at Warrawagine. They are proud of their school and celebrate the uniqueness of the experience. They happily welcomed my children into the ‘Morning Muster’ and introduced them to all their friends and teachers. They explained in great detail who the other kids were and where they live. They shared stories about their camps and excursions. Scitech in Port Hedland was a favourite!
Yes SIDE has a place but it can not replace SOTA. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and for our friends their village covers a huge distance but it is their village and should not be interfered with. This fight is about children and their sense of belonging and community. We need to give these young people a voice which they are entitled to under the United Nations Rights of the Child.